Christchurch milk plant expands

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 11:51 12/06/2014

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Goodman Fielder will spend $27 million expanding its ultra-heat-treated (UHT) milk plant in Christchurch, employing a dozen extra staff when the project is complete.

The NZX and ASX-listed company said today that it was increasing its capacity to meet growth opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly with the export of long-life milk tetrapaks to China.

The project will see the extension of the UHT building in Blenheim Rd, with the installation of a new pasteurising, sterilising and palletising line, as well as a new high-speed UHT milk filler.

The upgrade work, which still needs consent, is expected to be completed by October next year and will boost production at the site by about 32 million litres a year, an increase of 50 per cent.

Goodman Fielder chief executive Chris Delaney, visting from Australia, said: "The premium UHT category in Asia-Pacific is anticipated to grow by around 50 per cent over the next five years.

"This project will provide us with additional capacity to address this growing market through our iconic New Zealand Meadow Fresh brand and distribution capability.

"We are seeing increasing demand for our Meadow Fresh products in Asia-Pacific, particularly China, as we continue to build on New Zealand's natural, high-quality dairy credentials.

"We are investing now to meet that demand and also plan for future growth."

Goodman Fielder is under a takeover bid from Singapore palm oil trader Wilmar International and Hong Kong investment company First Pacific.

Delaney said the Asian companies were about two and a half weeks through a four-week due diligence process on the Goodman Fielder assets.

He said the investment in Christchurch was satisfying after the impact of the 2011 earthquakes had had on the site and Goodman Fielder people over the past three years.

Goodman Fielder New Zealand managing director Peter Reidie said the new building and production line would require 40 fulltime-equivalent roles for the eight-month construction period.

Goodman Fielder employees 230 people at the site, which produces fresh milk for delivery throughout the South Island and UHT milk products predominantly for export.

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